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Archive for April 9th, 2010

Michael Jakscht

Two weeks ago a news flash zipped across my iMac screen about eight Phoenix-based motorcycle riders involved in an accident with a sanitation truck. Knowing that in about a month I planned to be riding in the same area of Arizona, the accident caught my attention.

If you’re unaware of the incident; on Thursday, March 25th a group of motorcyclists who were taking advantage of the nice weather, were literally run down by a Blue Sky Sanitation truck driven by Michael Jakscht, 46.  The truck ran into the group of motorcyclists on Carefree Highway who were stopped at a stoplight, killing four of them and injuring five others.  Photos from the scene are disturbing due to some motorcycles bursting into flames under the truck while others scattered flaming wreckage across the intersection.

Sure it’s true that motorcycles can’t be made as objectively safe (crush zones, front and side air bags, etc.) as cars—however, no motorist (in a car or on a motorcycle) expects to be run down while sitting idle at a stop light!  Blue Sky Sanitation is a very small, limited liability company headquartered in Fountain Hills, AZ which employs about four people.  At the time of the accident witnesses reported that there were no outwardly signs the truck driver being impaired.  In fact, one witnessed stated that the driver commented how he was distracted doing paperwork.  Within hours it was reported that Mr. Jakscht had a string of prior speeding and over-weight traffic violations.

Blue Sky Sanitation Truck

But, there is even more to the story.  On April 6th police arrested Mr. Jakscht on suspicion of being under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the crash, and booked him on four counts of manslaughter, five counts of aggravated assault and seven counts of endangerment. According to police, the initial toxicology tests on blood drawn from Mr. Jakscht on the day of the crash show he had the illegal drug methamphetamine in his system.  He is currently being held in the 4th Avenue jail on a $1M bond and his initial hearing is set for April 13th.

Motorcyclists who died as a result of the crash were Daniel Butler, 35; Clyde Nachand, 67; Stephen Punch, 52; and Dale Downs-Totonchi, 47.  Phoenix Fire Capt. Ernie Lizarraga, 52, who was part of the riding group remains hospitalized suffering from injuries sustained in the crash.  In addition, Jason Anania, 48, is recovering at home from a shattered leg and bruised back.

When people get behind the wheel of a vehicle, they take on a responsibility to ensure their action does not put other people in danger.  So we have a “tweeked” truck driver who ignored his responsibility and innocent motorcyclists were in my view murdered.  The families of those victims can and will likely file a wrongful death lawsuit, but I’m sure Blue Sky Sanitation and Mr. Jakscht will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid accepting responsibility.  While it’s how our litigious society works I do hope these people are brought to justice.

The death of a family member in an accident like this has to be a horrible experience.  I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the families and hope for a full recovery of those injured.

Additional news reports HERE, and video coverage by ABC HERE.  I’ve previously written about “trucker bombs” HERE.

Photo’s courtesy of Associated Press/NPR and ABC.

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It started as whispers, but lately we’ve heard more and more about the “R” word.

Recovery of the economy.

Economists are starting to down play the recession and clearly chatter from our D.C. representatives is all about a turning point as retail sales beat forecasts and for the first time in 10 years 160K jobs were created in the month of March.  However, the unemployment rate remains steady at 9.7% nationally and it really looks like the pace of growth won’t drive rapid improvement in the labor market.

And speaking of job growth, Harley-Davidson has taken some of the oxygen out any recovery in Milwaukee.  According to the Biz Journal the motor company filed a mass layoff notice this week with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development informing the agency that it was undergoing a permanent reduction in force and will lay off 94 employees at its distribution center in Franklin beginning June 7.  Unemployment remains steady at 8.7% in Wisconsin.  This news was not unexpected as the motor company announced more than a year ago that it was closing the distribution center as part of a major reduction in operations, with a third-party company picking up parts, accessories and general merchandise distribution.

Clearly the labor market distress remains high and I’m not making light of hard working folks difficulties.   But, if it’s any consolation – plus the fact that this week Tiger returned to the Masters, launched a new 3D PGA Online Game and Nike’s greedy geniu$ made us feel CREEPY for the multimillionaire after rolling out a new ad featuring his dead father’s voice – Wisconsin is ranked among the top states for its ratio of golfers to courses and during this most distressful time, might I suggest a round of golf to reduce stress?  Better yet, maybe you could snag a 4-some in the middle of the day with Mr. Keith Wandell (H-D CEO) who according to a number of press reports is an avid golfer and discuss etiquette or share tips!

Photo courtesy of GoGo Caddy and H-D.


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